Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s run on “Wonder Woman” is coming to a close — just two more issues to go — and it’s becoming increasingly apparent as they pull the remaining plot threads together. Fortunately for readers, that means a lot of action and excitement as the First Born makes his latest move.
Azzarello’s still dishing up a lot of surprises along the way; Hera’s repositioning herself in regards to the Amazons, for example, or the grisly battle on Paradise Island. It’s moving at a good clip, even as you can tell that some surprises are still being held in reserve for the final chapters still to come. What’s nice is to see how well so much of this was set up prior to this moment; this is a three-year run that feels like it was genuinely plotted out from start to finish back on day one.
Some bits are a bit more predictable — moments that you knew had to happen sooner or later — but what’s so nice about them is that Azzarello can still throw you for a loop when they do. Take the surprise on the last two pages, for example. Without giving anything away, there’s a moment that you had to know sooner or later would make an appearance. But when it does? It’s not so much that the moment appears, but rather how Azzarello handles it. That’s the important thing about good storytelling; it’s not necessarily the surprise of the destination, but rather the thrill of everything that pops up on that road. The First Born is almost certainly headed for defeat, but Azzarello shows us here that getting to that point can still be surprising.
It’s also great to see Chiang back on the art. Goran Sudzuka did a commendable job as the second artist (post-Tony Akins, whose work was also noteworthy), but Chiang’s art is simply amazing. I love the sharp, clean ink lines that Chiang puts on the page here. Just look at the composure of Wonder Woman’s face on the second panel of the first page; she can see what we are only getting snippets of, but her expression tells the tale so the turning of the page brings that reveal to a climax rather than a random surprise. He’s able to draw a captive character who is still defiant and strong, and who visually comes across as dangerous even when wrapped up. Those who are in slightly weaker positions come across well, too; it’s not just about the uber-powerful that makes Chiang’s art sing. Look at Zola at the bottom of page 5, worried about the changes that she sees happening. Once again, it’s that expression that sells Azzarello’s story, the moment where you know that things are starting to go off of the rails. And when it comes to the battle, Chiang sells the idea well; with both tight focuses on two beings battling, and pulling back to see the chaos and bloodshed that are ripping across the island, we get it all. There’s a sense of scope here, something important for a storyline like this.
I’ll be genuinely sad to see the Azzarello and Chiang era of “Wonder Woman” come to an end; it’s been a constant source of good, strong entertainment since the start of the “New 52” reboot. In the meantime, though, there’s nothing to stop me from enjoying what we’ve got. Here’s to the final two chapters.